I first met Ron Wright at a Texas Sixth District Congressional candidates’ forum, held at the Texas Motor Speedway in February of 2018.
He was one of a gaggle of candidates who were vying to succeed the retiring Joe Barton. Wright, was a political veteran who served on Arlington’s city council, then as Tarrant County Tax Assessor. He was also Congressman Barton’s District Director, before transitioning to be his Chief of Staff.
Wright wasn’t flashy or boastful, he was comfortable in his own skin, and signature bow tie. He was content being tucked away at a corner table at the Speedway, happy to introduce himself and discuss the issues with whomever stopped by.
Representative Wright was steady. He often stated that he wouldn’t be a House lifer and had no interest in climbing the leadership ladder.
After being seated, he indicated he intended to work from day one, because “he already knew the location of the coffee pots.”
The loss of Wright to COVID-19, will be felt throughout our region and the country because he’ll no longer be in the people’s chamber speaking for us.
Wright was an effective public servant. During several interviews and other conversations, I found him to be a rock-ribbed conservative, who believed in life, liberty, and the pursuit of economic freedom. Agree on policy or not, he never seemed to take political disagreements personally.
A dedicated and reliable conservative, he rarely vilified opponents, instead he sought consensus when possible. He nodded in agreement when I noted that more than 91% of all legislation receives bipartisan support, he told me he wished more people were aware of that statistic.
He laughed heartily when I mentioned that recent Congressional approval ratings often hovered between 16% and 21%, he quipped the number placed Congress “slightly above the popularity of prostitution.”
Wright was first sworn in during a government shutdown. He spoke with passion about not burdening our grandchildren with this generation’s debt and irresponsible choices.
I won’t forget his reaction when I pushed back against his assertion that Democrats were solely responsible for exploding the national debt.
“Republicans controlled the purse strings from January, 2011 until January 2019, sir, how do you respond to critics who say that politicians only care about the deficit during election years?”
After hesitating, Wright gave me credit for understanding a fundamental truth of Washington.
My boss later told me the Congressman appreciated that I was prepared, and looked forward to our next interview.
It’s difficult for a reporter to be friends with anyone they cover but the Congressman and I had a friendly respect. Shortly after he publicly announced his battle with lung cancer, my mother also had an abnormality on a scan. I reached out for advice, he asked how she was doing from then on.
He did the same when I contracted COVID-19, even during the last time we talked, in the days following Jan. 6, 2021.
The loss of Ron Wright will be felt by many. These days, an honorable politician appears less often than someone who wears a bow tie.